Submitted by Brendan Lieser
People take it for granted the product that they are supplied with from the stores that they buy from. What would people do if they couldn’t get their hands on the products they want as easily as they do now? This could become somewhat of a reality in the future if things aren’t changed. Currently, there is a huge shortage in truck drivers in the U.S. There has been a shortage for some time now but it is getting drastically worse.
For all the freight that needs to be transported there is not enough trucks in certain areas to move all of the freight that needs to move at the time it needs to be. According to an industry analysis by DAT solutions, at the start of 2018, there was just one truck available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped. This shortage is causing companies to have a shortage of the product that they need, more pressure on 3PL companies, and more.
A shortage in truck driver is causing freight transportation costs to increase. This paired with fluctuating gas prices that at times can be very high are hurting companies margins and customer satisfaction. Some companies have been forced to use rail and other forms of transportation as a means to move freight which can be expensive.
At one point truck driving was a highly respected and desired job. Nowadays truck drivers are looked at negatively by other drivers. They are often cut off and ridiculed by other drivers on the road. Many times they are pulled over by police for no real reason.
A lot of shipments have time critical requirements and any delays could require the driver to stay overnight or wait a long time to be unloaded/loaded because of a missed appointment time. These drivers are trying to do their job and get the public the necessary products in order to live but others are making it hard to do so. For these reasons and others that I will explain are making truck driving a less than desirable job and is causing many industries problems. Other than these things mentioned many truck drivers are required to be on the road for weeks at a time. They aren’t able to see their families and enjoy life as much as they would like.
Also, recently there was a law change requiring an electric logging device to be placed in the truck to monitor how many hours the driver has driven. It’s somewhat complicated but to keep it simpler a truck driver is only allowed to drive 14 hours a day followed by a 10 hour rest period before getting back on the road. Before this electronic logging device drivers would just write on a sheet how many hours they’ve driven making them able to alter the actual number of hours driven. This was attractive to drivers because they could potentially make more money due to reduced transit times but now it is automatically recorded preventing them from being able to do so.
To attract more drivers companies are offering better benefits and higher wages. Even this isn’t attracting the number of drivers the industry needs. Shortages in qualified and quality drivers is also an issue. I have thought of some ways to attract drivers and hopefully get the amount of drivers to where it needs to be.
Certain individuals in the supply chain industry that don’t typically do any driving and typically work in the office should either be required by their company to have a year or so of driving experience or to haul one or so shipment a year for them. It doesn’t make much sense for people within a company to manage, direct, and communicate with drivers but don’t understand what they go through or how to do their job. This will help companies operate better due to employees having more experience, knowledge, and qualifications as well as it will help the industry as a whole to bring the driving shortage closer to equilibrium.
Citizens obtaining college degrees is also increasing causing more people to believe they should be working more white-collared jobs rather than driving trucks. A solution I believe could help this shortage is graduates purchasing a delivery truck and driving it for two years or so. They would then be able to pay the truck off or close to it.
After those few years they can potentially purchase more trucks and begin to run their own fleet. They could offer to potential drivers that after two years of driving they are promised an important good-paying job elsewhere within the company that is not driving. The company can continue this cycle until they are a well-built carrier running a large operation. The government, as well as transportation companies, should also advertise through commercials and others ways regarding what drivers go through on a daily basis and how other drivers on the road should learn to respect them.
The last solution I have is legally requiring in some way for shipping and receiving warehouses to be more lenient. What I mean by this is for these warehouse to unload/load a truck a greater amount of hours in a day. Many warehouses may only ship/receive a few hours a day and if the truck doesn’t arrive in time they will have to wait until the following day. This causes delays and expenses to arise making the truck driver job and others involved more difficult.
Currently, truckers crossing state lines are required to be at least 21 years old, it is being explored to reduce this age to 18. Autonomous vehicles may be the answer in the future but not for at least a decade. For now, people should show respect to truck drivers and explore the career. The median salary for truckers increased 15% from 2013 to 2017. This will more than likely rise even more as times goes on and the shortage increases. Some carriers are offering sign on bonuses as high as $10,000, being a truck driver can have very good compensation as well as you get to see different parts of the country and world.
Submitted by Brendan Lieser